Porquerolles Day 7

July 5, 2015

Late in the morning around 8 o’clock, I got to Porquerolles Plongee and literally had the store owner open up his shop by ringing him while standing right outside. Since it was already impossible to catch a boat bus to Port Cros at that hour, I decided to rent the snorkeling equipment here and explore eastern Porquerolles.

The first destination of the two is Crique de la Galere. It was a pleasant morning walk out in the country, uneventful compared to that adventurous first hike. The final descending “acces plage” part was a highlight because it’s narrower, shadier and thus more fun to maneuver among the tree branches and spider webs. The slope is much milder compared to that of Gorges du Loup, but therefore also stretches much longer. It’s the same type of rock found at Gorges du Loup, but here it’s covered with soil and trees, whose roots form natural stairs all the way down.

When I arrived at the opening (nobody was there except for many boats at the mouth of the bay), the sea didn’t surprise me with a breathtaking view. And I, unfazed by the sight of a freshly dead seagull, settled my bag beside it. When was the last time I snorkeled? It took me quite a while to relearn my snorkeling devices. When I finally plunged into the water, the underwater world welcomed me with blue and yellow. The shallow water bottom is mostly covered with yellow fluffy carpet and white rolled “gingko leaves”. Only small fish hung around here. Twenty meters away, I spotted my first pray with non-negligible size. It soon joined its friends and swam in a school of ten. They look tasty, by which I mean they are not dressed vividly. This is because the general environ is yellow and they can’t hide from the birds if they are not also yellowish. Yah, blame the vegetation here. So with my Eilat trip in mind, namely the most lushly corlorful coral reefs, clown fish and numerous other types of fish of distinct geometry, Crique de la Galere didn’t impress me too much. But of course, the clear blue water is always a soul-soothing substance.

Exercising the norm of the snorkeling game: fish chasing, before I noticed, I was already at a considerable depth, where the boats parked. The blue here got darker and more enigmatic. I had to constantly come out to the air to make sure I’m close to the boats so as not to be too isolated. This was proven to be a last wise thought after all the bad decisions I would make before it.

So after taking in a full hour view of the ever charming water, I found myself 150 meters away from my bag. Feeling it’s time to rock the road again, I decided to take off my mask and give it a non-stop straight-line swimming back to the shore. Just over 100 strokes, suddenly I was attacked by an acute pain on my forearm and I instantly gave out a cry of terror. (I’m sure my scream was still echoing at the bay today.) I looked to left and saw nothing. Imagination told me it must have been a flesh-eating fish with an entire mouth made out of sharp teeth. In total panic I then raised my left arm and saw a scary region with many small purple dots that looked like poisoned pores. I must have been mad by now. I was so frightened and started fleeing towards the nearest boat clumsily, completely forgetting about the newly-learned fast swimming technique.

Fortunately the people on the boat were very kind. While I was breathing heavily and rapidly, talking gibberish, they helped me up the boat, checked my arm and applied some cream from a very professional-looking medicine bottle. I calmed down a little, otherwise I would have started crying from this paralyzing pain. And even though they spoke but little English, I managed to understand that a) my life is not under threat, b) it takes two days to heal and c) it was neither a fish, nor a sea snake, but a jellyfish, which they call medusa in French. The pain was still persistently intense. I might have been capable of swimming back to the shore on my own actually. But I was so scared that this option was completely out of question. So they lowered a motor raft and took me back to the shore. The guy driving the raft then asked me to do something. I couldn’t understand his French and he repeated over and over again, each time with increasing volume as if that would make me understand. His body language looked as if telling me to go back to the boat. But why would I go back to the boat? He gave up on me and started paddling using his two arms, causing laughters back at the boat. Then I realized he needed my push in order to be able to start the motor again or something like that. But it was too late. He was already pretty far and eventually all the people waved goodbye to me. I waved back from the pebble beach, and gradually realized how much they had helped me.

What follows was the cancellation of the second destination Cap des Medes and a pretty boring walk along the coastal road, as Ougustine already told me. I came back to the diving club. The guy was also very kindhearted to have tried to find some medicine for me. And he explained that the jellyfish is usually just a fist small, but it has long tentacles that can sting. Next I headed to the medical center, hoping to find some professional advice and cream since the cream offered by the boat people were already gone. But a sign on the door said that it won’t open until 5 p.m. And on the bottom there was a line, which I guessed was saying “in case of emergency, call the following number”. My arm was so damn hurting that it defintely makes an emergency. So I called that number. And in 5 minutes, there came a huge red vehicle, from which two English speaking guys came out. They nicely had me seated and checked my jellyfish bite. Then they smiled, saying this is absolutely nothing. But they drove me to their center anyway (On our way, the tourists all looked alarmed.), which is a fire center (So I called the fire fighting station?) and applied some toothpaste on my arm. I felt sorry to have troubled the firefighters so much with my minor problem. But they just kept smiling and told me to take care. With this new layer, I walked back to the hotel. But that’s not the end of the story.

At the front door, an old man asked me if I was alright – I must have still looked miserable due to the pain. I showed him my injury covered by the toothpaste and told him it was terribly hurting. As we were speaking, a large crowd gathered around me and everyone began to worry for me and exchanged ideas in French to try to find a solution. There was a nurse among them, and she led me to wash away the toothpaste and showed me a bottle of hydrocortisone. With some translating effort from another man, she gave me instructions and left the entire bottle for me. I had no words to describe my gratitude, except for the repeated “merci”.

Now as I am typing with a constant consciousness of pain coming from my left arm, I am truly grateful for all these nice people that I have encountered today. I already discovered how warm and helpful the French people are during the first two days. But today, I see this most heartfeltly.
I also sort of like this jellyfish episode now. Isn’t this a kind of alternative travel experience?